Peak(s):  James Pk  -  13,294 feet
Bancroft, Mt  -  13,250 feet
Date Posted:  07/31/2015
Date Climbed:   07/28/2015
Author:  awake
 James/Bancroft Combo  

James and Bancroft

9 miles round-trip
4,250 ft elevation gain

Total time ~ 6 hr 45 mins


TH to Top of Glacier - 30 mins
Top of Glacier to James - 1 hr 35 mins
James to Bancroft - 1 hr 35 mins
Bancroft back to top of traverse - 1 hr
Top of traverse to to Top of Glacier - 1 hr 25 mins
Top of Glacier to TH - 30 mins


There are a dozen trip reports already out there for James Peak, so I don't know if this is going to be of much use. But I've found most of the reports about climbing in snow conditions, or climbing the entire traverse to Berthoud Pass. For those of us peasants who are just looking for easyish summer hikes, this is intended to give a little more information on a James/Bancroft combo and what to expect.

St Mary's Glacier

There are different ways to get up, but a popular route is up through St Mary's Glacier. The glacier is an easy and popular hike. Parking costs $5 and fills up fast (so get there early). It's definitely doable to get up the glacier without traction, but trekking poles and micro-spikes made it easier.

View of St Mary's Lake/Glacier at sunrise

James Peak

Once I got up the glacier, the way up to James Peak was a breeze. I lost the trail a few times, but it wasn't hard at all to find the way up to James, since it was a straight shot. The first mile is on flat terrain, and then there is a steeper incline toward the top.

Trail towards James Peak
Easy gentle hike

Almost to the top
At the Summit Looking at the Indian Peaks

Traverse to Bancroft

The weather was holding up perfectly on the top of James, so I decided to head over to Bancroft. I've seen some pictures of this terrain in a few trip reports, and wasn't sure if I wanted to climb it. I generally try to avoid class 3 climbing, especially if there is some exposure. So the initial plan was to hike down a little bit to at least see the lake, and then head back up.

As I got going in the traverse, I realized that it was actually fairly easy and a doable climb. There were a couple sections that were a little hairy, but as long as you picked the right route, it's not difficult at all.

Here are a few pictures of the awesome view from the traverse of Ice Lake:



And here are a few pictures of the traverse itself. The pictures look worse than it actually is:


The rock seemed pretty stable, but there were definitely a few loose parts. As long as you take your time and evaluate your options, this is definitely doable. There were a few huge boulders the size of a refrigerator that I was a little bit leery of. There was nothing to indicate they were unstable; I've just read too many stories of people having close calls with massive boulders giving way and almost crushing them.

Mt Bancroft

The rest of the way up Mt Bancroft was steep, but an easy hike. Near the top, there was a little bit of class 2 climbing, but nothing too difficult. I debated going on to Parry Peak, but I knew I was too tired and the way back would be long.

Steep, but easy hike after the scramble
Looking back towards James Peak after the traverse

Almost to the top of Bancroft
View from Bancroft

The Way Back

Nothing too eventful on the way back. There are other ways to get back, but I decided to go ahead and retrace my steps over the James/Bancroft traverse, and just stay a bit south rather than reascend James Peak.


St Mary's Glacier


This is a very nice hike from a popular trailhead. James Peak was an easy one to do, but the hike to Bancroft was what I felt really made this hike great. Note that this hike is almost entirely above treeline, so because very careful of lightning. (It could be a long way to get back while above treeline).

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions
08/21/2015 06:20
How much is the parking these days?


If I remember correctly
08/21/2015 07:08
It’s still $5

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